NCS Boys X Country

Photo by Tony Kukulich

The Liberty High School boys’ cross country team celebrated after the North Coast Section Cross Country Championships Division 2 results were announced in Hayward, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. The Lions captures fourth place by one point, which secured the team their first trip to the state finals since 2015.

For the first time since 2015, the Liberty High School boys’ cross-country team has earned a trip to the state meet, following a fourth-place team finish at the North Coast Section meet on Saturday, Nov. 23.

Coach Eric Morford, who is in his seventh season with the Lions, said their work isn’t done yet.

“So far this season, they’ve stood out as not just the best team I’ve coached on the boys’ side, but I think they might be the best team in school history,” he remarked. “They have the goal of going to state and getting the best time possible and beating the team from 2004. Our goal is to be the best cross-country team in Liberty history.”

After setting a school record at the NCS meet, that goal is now within reach. Morford pointed out this year’s team has overcome considerable adversity to reach this level of success. In particular, Keene Sample stood out.

“He had really bad back problems, and it took him out of this entire track season in the spring,” Morford explained.

Sample, a junior, couldn’t race with the team until about a month ago.

“He’s been training, but we wanted to make sure he was going to be back and be himself. He showed up and made the difference for our team.”

Sample finished 45th overall with a time of 16:25.2, only seven-tenths of a second ahead of the next runner. As the fifth Liberty runner, his score helped them stave off College Park by one point for the final qualifying spot for the state meet. The margin between the two teams was razor-thin, as both teams finished with identical average times.

Nic Lewis, a junior, led the Liberty team with a time of 15:35.5, good for fifteenth place among Division II runners. Curtis Reichardt, also a junior, ran a personal best time of 15:57.3 to finish 24th. Junior Jackson Schwartz and senior Anthony Portillo finished 26th and 38th, respectively. 

On the girls’ side, Freedom High School sophomore Kylee Denver will represent her school individually, following her 12th place finish with a time of 18:20.1.

The state meet will be held Saturday, Nov. 30, at Woodward Park in Fresno. Denver will run in the Division II girls’ race, which begins at 8:30 a.m. The Liberty boys’ team will begin their race at 9:30 a.m.